It was 10 years ago that members of the Rylstone Women's Institute in the Yorkshire Dales bared all for a nude charity photo shoot and a sepia and white calendar. They hoped to raise enough money to buy a sofa for a hospital waiting room..
WELL, it was a world wide sensation!!! The first calendar was inspired by the death of Angela Baker's husband John at age 54 from non-Hodgkins lymphoma in 1998. John was a National Park's officer in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. It has since helped raised nearly £2 million for Leukaemia Research, with work being done at The University of Leeds, my Alma Mata. Their amazing story was made into a Hollywood movie starring Helen Mirren and Julie Walters and later a West End stage show starring Gaynor Faye.
Music in the movie included 'You Upset Me Baby' by B.B. King; 'Sloop John B.' by The Beach Boys, and 'The Way You Do The Things You Do', by The Temptations
The movie was shot in Kettlewell, 10 miles from Rylstone and other beautiful villages and towns, including Burnsall where I had a picnic last week, Buckden, Linton, Settle, Malham, Skipton and Ilkley. Bracknell Fine Foods of York produced 3 jams and greeting cards, and Whitakers Choclatiers of York sells 12 squares of chocolate with the original calendar photos on the wrappers.
The girls toured the world including The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in Los Angeles and the Rosie O'Donnell Show. The orignal calendar, named 'The Alternate WI Calendar', sold 88,000 copies and made £450,00 while an American version sold 202,000 copies. They made calendars in 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008.
The original 11 split up in 2003 in a dispute over which company should be chosen to make the movie, but this week the remaining six showed off their new, all colour calendar, 10 years on, at a launch at Harvey Nichols store in the centre of Leeds, with giant size photos of Miss January to Miss December in the classic Victoria Quarter arcade next door, one of the gems of the Leeds shopping scene. I managed to buy the new calendar and say hi to Angela and some of the other gals in Harvey Nics, who were all wearing sunflowers - the flower than John loved, and feature in the 2010 calendar as well as other shrubs and teapots that are placed 'strategically' in the photos.
The remaining calendar girls are Tricia Stewart, Angela Baker, Beryl Bamforth, Linda Logan, Chris Clancy and Ros Fawcett
The Calendar Girls 2010 edition costs £9.95 available from www.leukaemiashop.com